Summary: If we surrender our lives over to God He will give us His strength and we have nothing to fear from this world.
Intro: He was a professional thief. His name stirred fear as the desert wind stirs tumbleweeds. He terrorized the Wells Fargo stage line for thirteen years, roaring like a tornado in and out of the Sierra Nevada’s, spooking the most rugged frontiersmen. In journals from San Francisco to New York, his name became synonymous with the danger of the frontier.
During his reign of terror between 1875 and 1883, he is credited with stealing the bags and the breath away from twenty-nine different stagecoach crews. And he did it all without firing a shot.
His weapon was his reputation. His ammunition was intimidation.
A hood hid his face. No victim ever saw him. No artist ever sketched his features. No sheriff could ever track his trail. He never fired a shot or took a hostage.
He didn’t have to. His presence was enough to paralyze.
Black Bart. A hooded bandit armed with a deadly weapon. What was his deadly weapon? One word, it was FEAR!
Fear has prevented many Christians from experiencing the blissful happiness that Jesus is defining in the beatitudes. Fear of death, fear of failure, fear of God, fear of tomorrow – and the list goes on and on. Fear’s goal is to create a cowardly, joyless soul. He wants you to take your eyes off the mountain peak and settle for the dull existence of the flat lands.
33"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Illustration: A legend from India tells about a mouse that was terrified of cats until a magician agreed to transform him into a cat. That resolved his fear…until he met a dog, so the magician changed him into a dog. The mouse-turned-cat-turned-dog was content until he met a tiger-so, once again; the magician changed him into what he feared. But when the tiger came complaining that he had met a hunter, the magician refused to help. “I will make you into a mouse again, for though you have the body of a tiger, you still have the heart of a mouse.”
We as believers too often forget that everything we face in this world is subject to God. If we live our life for God, and He’s in control of everything, then what do we have to fear? Many people are born with all the physical attributes they need to be superior athletes. But they never excel because their hearts aren’t into sports. Then some people have very little natural athletic ability but they put their whole heart into a sport and they do real well. God has given us the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and the church body, but if our heart isn’t into living a life of faith then we will be struck with fear and misery.
Illustration: If power could deliver us from fear, then Joseph Stalin should have been fearless. Instead, this infamous Russian premier was afraid to go to bed. He had seven different bedrooms. Each could be locked as tightly as a safe. In order to foil any would-be assassins, he slept in a different one each night. Five chauffeur-driven limousines transported him wherever he went, each with curtains closed so no one would know which contained Stalin. So deep-seated were his apprehensions that he employed a servant whose sole task was to monitor and protect his tea bags. Stalin; Ian Grey (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979), 457